Our Staff


Shawn Nielsen

Mrs. Nielsen is the former director/teacher of Green Valley Lutheran Preschool & Kindergarten in Henderson Nevada. She was called by her church to lead the school and create and teach a kindergarten program. She spent the last 19 years there before leaving to spend more time with her husband and family. She has a master’s degree in education from UNLV and holds a synodical certification with Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church. She has been a member of Green Valley Evangelical Lutheran Church since 1994 were she participates in their sewing circle and teaches Sunday school. She counts among her greatest blessings in life a wonderful husband, five children, 12 grandchildren and the calling by her church to teach and preach God’s word to little children.

We are very excited about the talented teaching staff at Water of Life Lutheran School! Together, we have a combined total of over 40 years of experience as educators. We have a passion for teaching, and are looking forward to nurturing the intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual growth of your child. All of our staff have had thorough FBI background checks and have a Sheriff's Card clearing them to work with children. 

Sue Heinitz, M.S.Ed. 

Mrs Heinitz is an experienced educator with both a Bachelor's degree and Master’s degree in Elementary Education from Martin Luther College, the teacher preparation college for the WELS. In addition to being a gifted educator, she has a great deal of music background- she has extensive experience in leading and directing children’s choir, has additional training in working with children and music, and as a piano teacher. Mrs Heinitz plays piano, organ, and trumpet. She also serves as a church organist. 

Sue is a published author; click here to read her article that appeared in the August 2014 issue of Parent's Crosslink, a publication of the Northwestern Publishing House.


Sue is a warm and caring teacher who absolutely loves children! She brings an energy and creativity to her class that instills a love for learning in her students. She is excited to be a part of a ministry that gives her the opportunity to share God’s love with her students and their families.

Mrs Heinitz and her husband have four children who are eleven, ten, and six year-old twins. (Photo by Katy Miller, Katy Miller Photography)

Jenny Otto, BS 

Mrs Otto has a true gift for teaching students and inspiring them to love learning. She has a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Martin Luther College, the teacher preparation college for the WELS. She has also completed additional professional development through Graduate classes at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Jenny is bilingual in Spanish and English, and has expertise in teaching English Language Learners. In addition to being an experienced classroom teacher, Jenny has a wide range of talents that she brings to our Kindergarten program, including developing a school especially for Spanish speaking students and playing the piano. She also has an extensive background serving as a church musician.

Jenny has a heart and passion for teaching young children, and sharing God’s love with them. She finds the greatest joy in helping her students grow and develop. She is deeply committed to bringing the highest quality instruction into her classroom, and is always seeking ways to make every day a better, richer, learning experience for her students. Jenny is absolutely thrilled to be a part of our school. She looks forward every morning to creating an engaging and happy environment in her class. Her students can always look forward to highly creative and interesting lessons, that reach beyond the ordinary. 

Jenny is the wife of Pastor Tim Otto, of Mount Olive Lutheran Church (a member church of the WELS). In addition to teaching at Water of Life Lutheran School, she is helping Pastor Otto reach out into the Spanish speaking community on the East side of Las Vegas. 

Mrs Otto and Pastor Otto have four children who are fourteen, tweleve and ten year-old twins.
(Photo by Jennifer Shepherd, JennLynn Photograpy)

Jessica Wills, BS

Mrs Wills is a graduate of University of Nevada, Reno, with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Her experience and skill, and her love for being in the classroom make her a gifted teacher. In addition to a degree in education, Jessica has completed Graduate level coursework in Elementary Literacy. 

Jessica also has an extensive dance background that encompasses many different dance genres. She brings this expertise into the classroom and includes it in the many opportunities her students have for gross motor development and movement. Both are an important part of the daily learning experiences in Mrs Wills’ class. 

Mrs Wills loves inspiring young minds to read, write, and think. She is a warm and caring teacher, who brings a smile and positive energy into her classroom each day. Her students continually benefit from the creativity she brings to lessons and learning activities. Her classroom is the perfect example of how we surround our students with God’s love, and nurture their growth and development in many different ways. She is so very happy to be a member of our teaching team!

Mrs Wills and her husband have two children, who are six and four years-old. 
(Photo by Jennifer Shepherd, JennLynn Photograpy)

Jackie Unke, BS

Mrs Unke has an extensive and experience-rich background that she loves sharing with our students. She has a degree in Elementary Education from Martin Luther College, the teacher preparation college for the WELS. She has wonderful musical gifts which include playing piano, organ, and guitar. In addition to teaching in the classroom, her background includes many years of teaching piano, directing children’s choir, and coaching children’s volleyball. 

Jackie loves working with children. She brings this caring for her students, and her enjoyment in teaching them, into every interaction with each child. Her experience makes her especially suited to working towards meeting the individual learning needs of every student. Jackie’s life’s work has centered around sharing the love of our gracious God with families and students. She feels very blessed to have a part in the ministry of education and sharing God’s love with the students at our school. She also shares her love for music through providing piano lessons for children ages 4 years-old and up.

Jackie is the wife of Pastor Tom Unke. Pastor Unke is the pastor at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, which is a member church of the WELS. Shepherd of the Hills serves the communities of northwest Las Vegas. 

Mrs Unke and Pastor Unke have four grown children, three of whom are involved in ministry work.

Zach Unke, BS 

Mr Unke is a Cum Laude graduate of Martin Luther College (MLC), the teacher preparation college for the WELS. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Education, with an additional specialty in Music Education.

Zach has had a great deal of experience in working with children which includes: teaching piano; participating in education workshops and seminars; directing children’s choir; Sunday School teacher; and participating extensively in one day church events for children. 

In addition to his expertise in teaching, Zach brings an incredible repertoire of musical abilities and skills to our school: he has had extensive experience in solo voice and college choir opportunities; he plays the piano, guitar, ukulele, mandolin, and clarinet; he was a member of the MLC Wind Ensemble and the MLC Orchestra; participated in theatre at MLC; and choir directing.

Mr Unke is an accomplished concert pianist and composer. He has published numerous pieces, has released three CDs of his compositions, and is working on a fourth CD. (visit his website by clicking here ) His music serves to share his faith in God with others. He also shares his faith by serving as a church organist. 

Zach brings his love for God, his love for teaching, and his love for music, into the classroom every day. He has a kind heart that makes him uniquely suited to working with our students. He finds great joy in spending time sharing our loving Savior with all of our students, and in helping them learn about the world around them. 

Zach is the son of Pastor Tom and Jackie Unke, who are currently shepherding the flock at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church (a member church of the WELS). He has a brother, and two sisters. 
(Photo by Jennifer Shepherd, JennLynn Photography)

Note- WELS refers to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, our church's national governing body. Water of Life, Shepherd of the Hills, and Mount Olive are all members of the WELS. Other WELS churches in Las Vegas include Summerlin Lutheran Church, Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, and Green Valley Lutheran Church.

A ministry of Water of Life Lutheran Church; offering Preschool, Pre-K, & Kindergarten to Summerlin, Spring Valley, & Rhodes Ranch areas of southwest Las Vegas.